Reentry of the mature individual into the active workforce after retirement: Assessment of perceived cognitive and social training needs

Patsy Felicia Bradford-Bearkley, University of Pennsylvania


A change in the demographics of the population is occurring and a larger and healthier mature population is forcing a change in the perception of the older individual's worth and role in society. Changes in the demographics of the population, along with changes in governmental policies and regulations concerning older persons in the workplace, more people over the normal retirement age are remaining as constructive, active participants in the workforce. Some mature employees are returning to the workplace after brief periods of retirement. Predictions for the future workforce are that higher skill levels will be required, due to increased technology, and that it will be composed of a majority of older employees and/or women, due to the decrease in the younger population. The purpose of this study was to determine if older employees upon their return to the active workforce would need training for fulfilling job requirements; and if training were needed, was it perceived as cognitive or social in nature. Four problem statements were identified in this study: (1) How does the older individual make a decision to return to the active workforce? (2) What happens to the older employee in the workforce? (3) How are employers organized to provide re-training opportunities for the older employee? and (4) How does the cognitive or social re-training, if provided, meet the job responsibilities and affect retention of the older employee? A qualitative study was conducted through in-depth interviews with 21 participants resulting in nine case studies. All businesses involved in the study were small in size and were non-profit or profit in nature. Four emergent themes developed from the data. These themes were: (1) The rationale for returning to the active workforce by the mature individual was not for financial need, (2) Work was a salient part of life for the mature individual, (3) Training that was received was sufficient for meeting job responsibilities, and (4) The mature employee was viewed as a valuable resource based on experience, reliability and dependability. This research has implications for considerations that may emerge from future boosts in population numbers of senior citizens.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Cognitive therapy|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Bradford-Bearkley, Patsy Felicia, "Reentry of the mature individual into the active workforce after retirement: Assessment of perceived cognitive and social training needs" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031643.